The current international drug control framework has been shown to be ineffective, incapable and counterproductive in dealing with drug-related problems. It has caused more harm than good. Research focused on investigating the user’s perspective, to understand the symbolic universe of coca derivatives, has shown that controlled use is the dominant trend among most users; more problematic use is due to prohibition itself and the social conditions of deprivation in which use occurs, although cocaine’s inherent pharmacological properties also play a role.
To maintain legitimacy, the prohibitionist paradigm has used diplomatic strategies to conceal information that contradicts its principles. These strategies were demonstrated in reference to the “Cocaine Project”. The foundations of the prohibitionist paradigm are being shaken as the reality of the drug situation has shown that more pragmatic and reasonable strategies, such as harm and risk reduction, should be deployed. We describe the controlled and standardized use of cocaine hydrochloride in Spain and compare it with the situation of crack and cocaine paste use in North America.